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Did the iPad M2 Replace My Laptop?

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“I DON’T DREAM AT NIGHT, I DREAM AT DAY, I DREAM ALL DAY; I’M DREAMING FOR A LIVING.” - Steven Spielberg

Nearing Black Friday 2022 I knew it was time to replace my 5 yr old laptop. I loved this laptop for the screen size and the power it had for its time. I originally bought it brand new, fully customized from HP. It ended up costing me around 3k or so once it was all set and done. I don’t have the specs anymore, but I believe it was 16GB ram and an i7 processor

Now, I was in dire need of a laptop. Working in video production, file sizes keep getting bigger and bigger, and, yes, proxies exist for a reason, but besides that, 5-minute videos were starting to become a huge hassle to work on with the constant loading and freezing. This laptop was on its last leg and literally hanging on by a wire. Needless to say, my laptop became a desktop that I took out only if I absolutely had to (see pics below)

Upgrading Laptops

This is the year I decided it was time to upgrade laptops (finally!!!). I looked at everything, and compared pricing, features, battery life, you name it. I had a list of “need to have” in order for me to work properly in what I do and the features/specs I really wanted. 

I initially wanted 128 GB of ram space, but after looking around, it was just out of budget for me so I needed to lower that need down to something more realistic. With that in mind, I started my laptop journey back from the beginning to see what was more affordable. 

I really wanted the Asus Zenbook Pro Duo 4k for the longest due to the added screen and was really ready to jump on it. I watched tons of video reviews about it and came across a Lenovo ThinkPad P16 which led to more videos. I was “sold” on the Thinkpad, but hated how heavy everyone claimed it to be. 

Now, I know Swole is in the name, but that doesn’t mean I want to be lugging around 10+ lbs everywhere I go. One of my “needs” was portability and a major reason that held me back from buying it.

I was in the middle of another Asus review when I came across a channel about editing videos with an iPad. I was intrigued by the notion of it because iPads are super portable and (based on my Mini 6) have a pretty long battery life. 

That’s when I started going down the rabbit hole and really doing a deep dive. Could I really make an iPad Pro my main computer?

Can The iPad Replace My Laptop?

In order for this to work for me I needed to be able to use Photoshop, Illustrator, and Premiere Pro on it. PS & AI were on it so that checked boxes 2 & 3, but video-wise, the best choice was something called Luma Fusion. I bought and paid for it for my phone to get a feel for it. It wasn’t my favorite, but I understand every program/app is different and requires a learning curve. 

I use an editor on some of my work. This is important because I like to have access to the project files if I need to make any changes without having to recreate the whole file or keep requesting changes when I have a deadline to meet. I soon learned that Luma Fusion isn’t PC compatible. 

It was at this point I really had to make a choice. Laptop or iPad. The laptop will 100% do everything I need it to, but an iPad is just so portable I could be laying in bed, in the car, or hanging out anywhere and I could instantly edit a video from it without the need for a bulky laptop, but I would lose access to project files from my editor. I had to have spent like 2 weeks trying to make this decision and with Black Friday around the corner I needed to make it fast. 

I’m sure everyone I spoke to was tired of me talking about it by then. I talked to everyone about it who would listen and even posted online about it asking Qs. Someone mentioned a Surface Pro 9 so I looked it up really quickly but found out that it isn’t great for video editing so I left it at that.  

Black Friday Is Coming

The week before Black Friday came I was still watching videos on the iPad, still considering it as my main computer when I then came across a video saying DaVinci Resolve is coming to iPad. Personally, I hate DaVinci, but this was such a big deal because it’s an editor I have installed on my computer and it’s able to be used for the iPad. Then I saw they included the ability to open files through your desktop to finish them. It’s almost as if a ray of light was shining upon me saying, “yessss this is the oneeee.” 

I messaged my editor almost instantly about switching over to DaVinci Resolve and she was happy to try it out. Over the next week, we both had to learn DaVinci to match with the workflow we have in Premiere- audio channels and Multicam being the #1 part of it. It wasn’t easy and I still haven’t quite figured out how to make it do certain things I want, it’s all a learning process. 

The day of Black Friday comes and I go to the store in confidence that I’m making the right choice. I buy everything I need for it like the Logitech MX Master 3S (amazing mouse btw. I love the soft clicks), Apple Pencil, Logitech Combo Touch, and a Number Pad. I never knew how much I used the number pad until I didn’t have one. I walk out feeling confident in my choice. I wouldn’t know for sure until a week later when I actually received the iPad because they had to order it being the 2TB Cell model.

At this point I’m looking at my purchase list every other day, visualizing it in my hands, when I notice something odd. It said it was the wireless version only. Typically that’s not a big deal, but I figured if I’m going to go all in, I might as well go all in and one day get the cell plan for it. I called up the store, double-checked it, and yup, the kid who ordered it ordered the wrong version. After some time, I was able to get it straightened out and now the right iPad will come in in another week. Fine, whatever. I’m pretty mad about that, but there is nothing I could do about it. 

The iPad Arrives!

The week goes by and I finally get the iPad! You wouldn’t believe how ecstatic I was. I’m not an Apple fanboy by any means (I hate macs), but I was so excited to finally be able to use this machine that I’ve only read about and seen videos about. 

I got everything all set up, charged, plugged in, etc., and then got to downloading apps. I knew I needed Photoshop, Illustrator, and LumaFusion right away so started with those. I also downloaded Procreate because I saw lots of art videos using it too. Once all that was done I wanted to test myself on how long a flyer would take to create. 

The Battle of Apps

Never having used the app version of PS & AI, I didn’t exactly know what features were available and what weren’t. This thought never occurred to me that it would be a “lite” version of what I’m used to. There’s a bit of a learning curve coming from Windows to iPadOS. Some things function the way you expect, others not so well- the Text Tool for example gave me tons of issues. After an hour I finally had a finished flyer. For comparisons, it usually takes me 15-45 mins regularly, but I’m usually “done” in the first 20. I spent the remainder fixing, playing around, not really rushing anything, but with the iPad, it took me the whole 60 mins just to get to the “done” part. Again, it’s not what I’m used to so I ended up trying another well-known app called Affinity Photo. 

Affinity Photo started checking boxes that I needed my photo editor to have and I was 90% sold on it, but one huge drawback occurred (which I’m sure is fixable somehow, but I couldn’t get it). When creating a mask on an image, brushing it black was very spotty. You could clearly see where the brush strokes were. I tried messing with settings, but maybe I missed it is all I can really say. I told myself the iPad is meant to speed up my workflow, not make it worse so that’s already a major strike against it. 

The next design I needed to do was vector based. I tried 3 different apps: Illustrator, Affinity, and Vectornator. Vectornator wasn’t able to open my AI file so I struck it out. Maybe it’s good as a lone program, but I have hundreds of AI files and can’t afford to lose access to edit them when needed. There were some import issues, grouping issues, and overall ease of use issues between the remaining two apps. I still can’t really say which one I prefer because I didn’t spend nearly as much time messing with either one, but the Affinity app came out on top for what I needed to be done at that moment. A drawback to both is that I’m not able to edit the template files I downloaded. Each app was able to edit certain parts, but not fully. That’s not a huge issue, but knowing I was losing that feature was another major strike. 

So now, here I am. 2/3 strikes and really contemplating if this was the right choice. DaVinci doesn’t come for at least another month and I have to really make a decision. Do I wait it out and practice with what I have, or return it? During the next week, I continue learning what I can and I notice I keep finding more and more negatives than positives. It gets to the point that I would rather use my computer that’s barely alive than the iPad because it’s just easier. I post some more questions online and then I come across the 2-in-1 laptops. Now, this really intrigues me because it’s like having an iPad and laptop which I thought was really cool because that means they’re still fairly portable. 

THE 2-IN-1 DEBACLE

One model that kept popping up during my research was the Microsoft Studio Laptop. It was different from the regular 2-in-1s that folded and seemed to be a bit more compact when switching to “tablet mode” and best of all, it ran full windows! Its biggest downside is the lack of ports- only 2 USB Cs. Luckily I have hubs so that’s not a huge issue. My next issue was the screen size being only 14.4 inches which is way smaller than my last laptop at 17.3 inches. That’s when I reminded myself that if I was willing to settle for a 12.9 iPad, the Studio Laptop is already bigger. After many pros & cons, I decided the best thing to do would be to test one out. 

Once at the store, I found an assortment of 2-in-1s to play with. I found the Laptop Studio and was shocked at the screen size and weight compared to the iPad. It really wasn’t that much heavier, and I could have full windows apps on it. Everyone praises the trackpad on it which I thought was pretty nice too. From the little bit of time, I messed with it, I really did like it. Another computer I saw was a Dell Inspiron 2-In-1. I really liked the screen size of it but felt like it might be too big to use in tablet form. I instantly hated the matte screen. Say what you will, but I’ll pick a glass screen all day over a matte one. A big con to the Dell was how it folded. It’s so big and awkward I ended up putting it on the table to fold it and knew that would be an issue if I’m ever anywhere in public with it. I hate my computers being dirty and I’m sure putting it in tablet mode would get the keys super dirty really fast. 

Conclusion

After getting home I did my pro/con list again on the iPad vs Studio Laptop. I ultimately decided to keep the iPad to learn how to use it more efficiently only to decide 2 hours later I can’t do this! I returned it, and now I’m the proud owner of the Studio Laptop and haven’t been happier deciding that, NO, an iPad cannot replace my laptop. At least in its current state. I’ve thought about getting one at a later time to try out DaVinci with it, but I think for now I’m happy with the Mini 6 and the Studio Laptop. 

Oh, what I forgot to mention is that with my old laptop, I had 2 additional screens connected. Well, I hated sitting at my desk so as a replacement for those screens I ended up picking up one of these Dual Laptop Extender Monitors for more screen real estate. That’s for the next blog. Until then, thanks for reading and let me know if you were able to replace your laptop with an iPad or not. 

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